Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-badge-new

Recently we’ve come across some artistic representations of animals (click on any photo to see a larger version):

(1) Snake Sculpture

carved snake 02

We discovered this snake at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. It looks so real that I was taken aback the first time I came upon it in the Asian Forest section. A few days ago we visited the zoo again with a 3 1/2 year-old family member. Like me, she stopped in her tracks when she saw this guy. “Is it moving?” she asked. When I told her no, it was a statue, she said, “Whew!” I know exactly how she felt.

(2) Wooden Slug

Slug Sculpture

We came upon this carved slug on our most recent trip to Northwest Trek. We had never been him before. In addition to rain and a temperate climate, the Pacific Northwest is also famous for slugs, including the big banana slug. This fellow apparently arrived just in time for the annual Slug Fest, which was to be held the following weekend.

(3) Neighborhood Sea Serpent

carved snake 01

And what would a Pacific Northwest neighborhood on Commencement Bay be without its own resident sea serpent? We came across this clever use of a tree root on one of our walks. I always marvel at examples of such creativity.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-participant

Beautiful Purple Iris

The record-breaking warm temperatures we had last week brought lots of people, including us, out to visit local parks. We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of Tacoma’s main park, Point Defiance Park.

Point Defiance Park includes many separate gardens, including Northwest Native Plants, Iris, Rose, and Dahlia gardens. Last week’s warm temperatures also brought out spring seasonal flowers in abundance, such as the iris pictured below.

Since my favorite color is deep purple, I was delighted to find these three beauties in bloom:

(Click on photos to see a larger version.)

Until next week, I wish you all well!

Photos © 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-participant

Last Saturday was the first non-rainy weekend day we’ve had in a long time. The absence of rain and a temperature in the high 50s brought lots of people, including us, to the beach area of nearby Point Defiance Park. As we walked along the beach, we watched a dog swim out to fetch a ball thrown into the water and four children work a see-saw made of a flat log placed perpendicularly over a round log at the water’s edge.

Here are three things from our walk. Although there was no rain, the day was overcast, so these pictures are somewhat subdued. (Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) Long Live Harry Bosch

A couple of weeks ago Amazon Prime released the second season of its show Bosch based on the mystery novels of Michael Connelly. When I tweeted that we were spending the day watching all 10 episodes, I received a message from Connelly’s web master offering me a Bosch ball cap.

Bosch hat: front

Our walk on the beach was my first opportunity to wear my spiffy new cap. Fans of Michael Connelly’s Los Angeles Police detective Harry Bosch will smile at what’s on the back of the cap:

Bosch hat: back

(2) Horsetails

Vegetation is beginning to break through. These things that look like striped asparagus are the earliest growth of horsetails:

horsetail sprouts

Later the stalks will branch out and look more like what they’re named after. Here’s a photo of some plants that are further along and have already begun to stretch out:

horsetails beginning to leaf out

Horsetails love wet areas. Here are a few more interesting facts about horsetails from Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon:

(a) Ancient Romans ate young common-horsetail shoots as if they were asparagus. They also used the shoots to make tea and as a thickening powder.

(b) Common horsetail is one of the most widespread plants in the world and often turns up as a bad garden weed.

(c) Common horsetail was the first vascular plant to send up green shoots through the debris of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

(3) Fog Bells?

We’ve seen these things in Point Defiance Park before, right near the water’s edge, but aren’t sure exactly what they are:

fog bells?

All we can figure out is that they may be fog bells. Here’s a close-up of one:

possible fog bell: view from below

It looks as if the curved pieces swing back and forth, allowing the protruding rods to strike the clapper (the thing that looks like a long fire extinguisher).

A Google search turned up no information about these things. I did, however, discover that fog bells have been used since about 1850. If that’s what these things are, fog gongs might be a more appropriate term.

If anyone knows what these are and how they work, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

In the meantime, have a good week.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-participant

(1) Porter Doughnuts

When in Ireland a couple of years ago, we had Guinness beef stew, a dish cooked with a generous helping of Guinness Beer. In fact, a splash—or even a big glug—of beer can improve the flavor of a lot of things.

Even doughnuts. For the month of March local bakery the Original House of Donuts is adding some Grit City Porter, made by local craft brewery Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., to its traditional cake doughnut.

porter doughnuts

Today was our day to indulge. We drove downtown to pick up a half dozen of these gems. The rich, malty taste that the beer gives the doughnut is offset nicely by the sweet, creamy icing. My husband and I devoured all of these quickly, as they went down nicely with some strong, extra bold coffee.

Next week we plan to go back and get some of the shamrock-shaped, green-iced, Irish-cream—filled St. Patrick’s Day doughnuts. They’re not made with beer, but I’m sure they’ll be just as delicious as the porter doughnuts.

(2) Downton Abbey Finale

NOTE: This bit contains some spoilers, so if the final episode of Downton Abbey remains unwatched on you DVR, you might want to skip down to item #3.

Call me sentimental, but this is one series that I truly wanted to see end happily. And happily, it did. Everybody got the best possible ending. Edith’s happy ending—marriage to her beloved Bertie—provided the occasion to bring together a lot of the characters. Even Rose, whom we hadn’t seen for a while, arrived for the wedding with photographs of her own three-month-old baby. Mary had her own happy news, and for once she was woman enough not to try to overshadow Edith on her big day. Even Isobel and Lord Merton managed to work things out, to the delight of everyone, even Violet (Grannie, the Dowager Countess).

And I’m not the only one to have a sentimental reaction. One of the reviews I read said that, on the first rehearsal of the scene in which Edith comes downstairs in her wedding dress and her father says, “You look so lovely,” both actors burst into tears. I don’t blame them. This has been a great series, and I’m glad the writers brought it to a proper closure.

(3) Even More Spring

I’ve posted some earlier photos of the first signs of spring. But time marches on, and now lots of trees and shrubs are blooming. Our neighbor has some beautiful purple azaleas in front of her house, which we can see from our kitchen window:

purple flowers

Since we get so much rain and so many dreary days here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s only fair that we get all these beautiful blooms to enjoy as compensation.

I hope you all have a good week.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

3 Things Thursday: Christmas Tree Edition

In honor of Christmas Eve, here’s a Christmas Tree Edition of Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

(Click on any image to see a larger version.)

(1) Teacup Tree

Teacup Tree

One of the dining rooms here at Franke Tobey Jones features this Teacup Tree, adorned with old-fashioned teacups glued to their saucers.

Here’s a close-up of a cup:

Close-up: Teacup

(2) Seahawks Tree

This one is from the Festival of Trees:

Seahawks Tree

We take our Seahawks football very seriously here. The 12 flag is in honor of … Well, it used to be in honor of the 12th man, but apparently some university has that phrase trademarked and the loudest fans in the NFL can no longer be called that. So now we are just The 12. But we’re still the loudest and proudest.

(3) Gingerbread Tree

I love gingerbread men:

Gingerbread Tree

This one is also from the Festival of Trees.

There were so many beautiful and clever trees at the Festival of Trees that I wish I could include all of them here. But I’m limited to three, and I always follow directions.

For all who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very cheery Christmas Eve.

Three Things Thursday: Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park

Here’s yet another holiday offering for Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park

Ever since moving to Tacoma we have heard about the huge, beautiful holiday lights display in Pierce County’s nearby Spanaway Park. When our retirement community offered a bus trip to see the lights, my husband and I immediately signed up.

Spanaway Park
14905 Bresemann Blvd. S.
Spanaway, WA

Fantasy Lights runs annually from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. It features more than 300 separate installations of lighted art spread out along a two-mile roadway that winds through Pierce County’s Spanaway Park.

The event has its own Facebook page, although the latest activity there is from December 2014. At that time several people posted that they would not be attending because the nativity scene had been removed. Also, the prices listed on that page are apparently also from a year ago, as they have gone up slightly.

One of the big draws of this event is that you drive through rather than walking, which makes it a perfect activity for a retirement community. The Pierce County official web site warns that there can be a wait of an hour or more to get into the park on weekend nights and advises a mid-week visit instead. We went on Tuesday night. Our bus driver tuned in to the FM station that broadcasts holiday music performed by a local high school to add to the holiday experience.

I took a lot of pictures and had to throw out most of them. The possibility of getting good photos is small for several reasons:

  • Your vehicle is moving, albeit slowly.
  • It’s dark, and you’re too far away to use flash.
  • The road winds back and forth, which means there’s always another display farther away behind the one you’re trying to shoot.
  • When you try to take photos out of one window, you also have reflections on the window of displays on the other side of the road. Individuals in cars can eliminate this problem by opening windows, but people on our bus didn’t want to do that. We saw another solution to this problem in the car ahead of us: They opened their sunroof and stood up to take pictures.

For all of these reasons, my photos aren’t very good. Because they look better at smaller sizes, I’ve kept most of them smaller than my usual blog photos. You can click on photos to see a somewhat larger version, but you probably won’t like it any better.

Here are the best of my photos:

(1) Santa’s Sleigh and Reindeer

Santa, sleigh, and reindeer

(2) Octopus

octopus

He’s not particularly Christmasy, but I’m partial to the Giant Pacific Octopus, which is native to these parts.

(3) Pirate Santa

This is the best one of the many photos I took.

Santa on pirate ship

Bonus

I leave you with this holiday admonition:

Have a safe holiday

Three Things Thursday

Another Thursday, another episode in the continuing saga of Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

Tacoma’s Festival of Trees

I love learning about the history, culture, and traditions of my new hometown, Tacoma, WA. Today it’s the Festival of Trees, which I had heard of but never attended before. The event even has its own Facebook page.

Festival of Trees is an annual fund raiser for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital here in Tacoma. The hospital opened in 1955. One of only three pediatric hospitals in Washington, Mary Bridge has been designated by the state as the Level II pediatric trauma center for this region. In 2012 Mary Bridge was named one of the country’s top hospitals by the Leapfrog Group for providing the safest and highest quality care to pediatric patients. Mary Bridge is the only pediatric hospital in the Pacific Northwest and one of only 12 children’s hospitals in the country to receive this recognition.

Mary Bridge Hospital came into being through the efforts of a group of women known as the Tacoma Orthopedic Association, which began in 1921. Recently renamed the Mary Bridge Brigade, the group in 1987 organized the first Festival of Trees to continue raising funds for the hospital. Each year local companies and individuals donate their time, talent, and funds to produce gorgeously decorated holiday trees that are packaged with other significant prizes and auctioned off at a black-tie Gala extravaganza. For those of us whose contributions to the effort must be more modest, there’s a gift shop at the Festival offering holiday merchandise. Purchases benefit the hospital.

But seeing the decorative trees wasn’t the only benefit of attending the festival. Orchestras, bands, and choruses from local schools provided entertainment. When we arrived, an orchestra was just finishing up its presentation. Later, as we sat in the cafe area drinking coffee (husband) and hot chocolate (me), we heard the chorus from St. Patrick’s School perform. The director explained that the kids range in age from nine to fourteen years, with an average age of about ten and three-quarters years. They practice before school, at 7:30 AM, four days a week. And I could not believe the beautiful sound that they produced! They were pitch-perfect, even when they sang in two-part harmony. Having been a choral singer myself in high school, I appreciated what these young kids have accomplished by working hard. Better yet, they seemed to be enjoying what they were doing.

I saw so many beautiful creations that choosing a mere three to share with you here was difficult. The exhibits were set up in a huge room at the downtown convention center. Each was roped off. Taking good photographs was challenging because of the ropes and the people moving around. I chose these three primarily because I was able to get in position to get a reasonably good shot of them.

Click on any photo to see a larger version.

Update

Here’s an article on the Festival of Trees from the local newspaper, The News Tribune:

Bangles, baubles — and vinyl — star at Mary Bridge’s Festival of Trees